Today i just signed up for a 3rd year as a Flickr Pro user. It’s $25 per year to get all the bells and whistles regular users just don’t get. Is it worth it? Well, if you want full control and access to your photos, then yes. But Flickr is not perfect by any means. Although they’ve made several much needed changes over the past 12 months, there’s still a lot of things they could improve upon and i’ll list them all one by one…
Flickr stats, even for pro users, are basic at best. You can view the last 30 days stats which is great if your account is 30 days old. If you’ve been around since the start, the chances are you want to see stats stretching back years, not weeks. Flickr doesn’t give you that option. Ideally, i’d want Google Analytics – type detail or at the very least the ability to view my photos stats from the day i uploaded my first photo to the day i uploaded my last photo.
Now you can download & use flickr apps which do a much better job of stats (e.g. F*Stats), but why Flickr doesn’t include these sort of features by default is beyond me.
Sticking with the stats problem, Flickr love to use ‘unknown source’ as a referrer which obviously doesn’t provide much insight as to where people have come from to view your photos. It’s a bit like saying ‘We know someone has viewed this image, and we have the technology to count & track them, but we’re too lazy to work out where they’ve come from’.
There can of course be valid reason for unknown sources e.g. if people click through to a photo from an email or from bookmarks. Flickr can’t tell me joe bloggs from [email protected] using gmail viewed my image because they aren’t allowed access that type of information. Same with bookmarks, it’s regarded as direct traffic, there is no ‘referrer’ as such.
But still, i often see a spike in traffic to some of my photos with the main referrer being an ‘unknown’ source which when i go hunting myself turns out to be a ‘known’ source (because i can find it through a bit of googling).
A while back, Flickr introduced the ability to share all uploads on your Facebook profile. I tried this an immediately hated it because it simply updated you profile every time you’d upload an image to flickr. So unless you uploaded images in batches, your Facebook profile would end up with tonnes of flickr updates, which is annoying. They still haven’t got this right in my opinion.
There should be a 5-10 minute delay in updating your Facebook profile (or an option there). If you upload multiple individual photos within that time frame, they’re all grouped as a batch and that batch is displayed on your Facebook profile in one update, not in 10 individual updates.
Why not just upload photos in batches, stupid? I hear you ask me. Well it’s not that simple… what if you’re using instagram & the flickr iphone app? It’s messy and time consuming to batch upload various images if you’re editing them, in different apps, sometimes it’s just easier to upload them there and then without having to leave the app, save images, organise them, then batch upload them.
It’s another small thing but on Facebook, Facebook hosted images pop up in a lightbox window. That’s much less painful than clicking on an image and being taken away to another site which is what happens when you click on a Flickr image. I know that’s good for Flickr on paper but for me it’s one less reason to use Flickr on Facebook, because it destroys the Facebook experience. I think they need to work together a bit better to improve the user experience for both Flickr and Facebook users.
Backup / Peace of Mind
Not so long ago, Flickr erased a Flickr Pro user’s account and his 4k+ photos along with it. Their response? Oops, sorry about that, here’s a free pro account for a few years. Only after plenty of criticism and media attention did Flickr recover those missing photos. I think that’s every user’s worst nightmare. Imagine if your gmail account was shut down or somebody got on to your server and erased all your websites *cough cough*. Anything of value gets backed up of course, or *should* get backed up but unless you’re extremely organised, the chances are that if something like that happens, you may not lose much data but it’s going to be a real pain in the ass and take days or weeks to get things back to the way they were.
I think it would make sense for Flickr to play on that ‘fear’ and offer some kind of backup / storage feature for a small fee. Allow people to download their entire collection or perhaps allow them to buy a hard drive and ship it to them with their entire collection of photos on it (because i’d imagine my own collection would be too large to download without getting throttled or charged extra by my ISP). That would be something i’d pay for… or pay extra for.
In years to come, i’m going to have more to lose than i do today, so naturally my ‘fear’ will grow that i could lose everything. If Flickr don’t provide some sort of backup / peace of mind, then i’ll most likely keep trying to find 3rd party solutions myself.
They must be doing something right
Despite the fact i can list numerous problems like this which annoy me, the reality is this will be my 3rd year as a Flickr Pro user, so i obviously think they must be worth it. Right now, yes they are… especially because it’s so much easier to integrate Flickr in to websites than it is say Facebook photos. Google’s Picasa is nice and their desktop software is very cool for amateurs but i think it all goes back to Google’s inability to do social… there’s just always something missing or lacking with Picasa.
I mean it *should* be holy grail for image sharing with Google’s search technology and the fact it’s free and probably easier to use than other sites and applications, but for whatever reason it doesn’t play out like that in real life. Or hasn’t yet anyway… perhaps it’s because Google are so eager to compete with Facebook and other rivals rather than embrace them or partner up with them. Google Video / Youtube was an exception and that turned out to be Google’s finest hour in terms of social media.